A Brief History of the Pet Food Industry Part Three, The Introduction of Kibble Purina Dog Chow.

Hey, fellow pet lovers!

I hope you’ve all had a great week since my last post and today is part three of a brief history of the pet food industry. There is only one more part after today’s post which will summarize everything we’ve talked about, mention raw food diets and lastly, list a few of the best food options on the market for our canine and feline friends.

Let’s jump straight into today’s post and learn all about how kibble came to be?


The Introduction of Kibble

If you’ve read part one and part two of today’s post then you will already know all about James Spratt and his famous dog biscuits that commercialised pet food to the masses. Then we moved onto the introduction of canned pet food and discussed Ken-L-Ration and their much loved canned horse meat that fed millions of pets across America during the early 1920s.

But now it’s time to move on and talk all about kibble, that hard dried biscut which every pet owner will have come across at some point in their lives. Kibble has a few names, dry pet food, dry biscuits and kibble which is what I tend to use. Being a raw feeder we have always stayed away from kibble but you can get good quality kibble if your willing to pay the price.

However, unfortunately, the majority of mass-produced kibble isn’t the best option for proving your pet with all their nutritional requirements and can even have a detrimental effect on their health in the long run. In today’s post, I want to go in detail about kibble, where did it all start and who was the first to manufacture this well known pet food? Well, you’ll soon find out as today we’re deep diving into the history of kibble and getting closer to the 21st-century pet food industry that we all know so well.

When was kibble first manufactured?

Technically speaking kibble was first manufactured by James Spratt in 1860 when he brought to market his famous Meat Fibrine Dog Cakes which we talked about in part one. These were dry biscuits made from a mixture of ingredients such as wheat, beetroot, various other vegetables which were bound together using beef blood and finally baked.

Next to mention is the F.H.Bennet Biscuit company which I also talked about in our previous post, remember their Milk-Bones? It was in 1908 that the company which was then known as Maltoid first made the Milk-Bone dog biscuit from minerals, meat by-products and milk. Hence the name of the product, due to the hight composition of cows milk within. In 1931 the company was bought by the National Biscuit Company which is now known as Nabisco and the only product they kept after the acquiring the bakery was their famous Milk-Bone Biscuits.

Nabisco went on a massive advertising campaign to get their Milk-Bone biscuits into supermarkets and malls all over America which was a huge success. They even used product placement in various movies such as the silent film The Tomboy in 1924 and in Mickey’s Suprise Party (1939) which was a theatrical cartoon with the hopes it would help boost the popularity of their product amongst pet owners.

Thankfully for Nabsico, their advertising campaigns worked and Milk-Bones were a common addition to pet owners weekly shop. I know what some of you may be thinking, but who was the first person to actually manufacture and sell the kibble that we all know so well today? Well, the company responsible is still around and is a leading pet food manufacturer in the pet food industry.

World War Two

Now that we know that Jame’s Spratt the man who is responsible for starting the pet food industry back in 1860 invented the first kibble on the market, it’s time to go forward to World War 2. Some of you may be thinking why I am I talking about Word War 2 when this is the history of kibble? Because until World War 2 most of our companion animals were fed canned pet food, in fact, canned pet food in 1941 represented 90% of market share but this all changed when America decided to join the war.

As we already know in America Ken-L-Ration was a very popular food choice for our canine and feline friends but when the USA decided to enter the second world war on December 7th 1941 this was the start of a shift in the pet food industry. The USA government had to ration metal, tin and meat. This meant that canned pet food was no longer a viable means for our companion animals and manufactures within the industry had to switch to producing dry food such as kibble.

Ralston’s Purina Company

We’ve all heard of Purina, they manufacture countless amounts of pet food each year and their annual turn over is massive, last year they earned a whopping £91.4 million ($90.7 million). Ralston’s Purina Company was the first company to manufacture kibble as we know it today and they did so in the 1950s using a cooking extruder that the company used to make their Chex Cereal. A cooking extruder pushes the ingredients through a tube, cooking whatever is put through under high pressure and then puffing it up with air and this is why our cereal stays crispy once the milk has been added.

Many manufacturers of kibble at the time were getting complaints from pet parents about the appearance, texture and digestibility of dry pet food on the market. This inspired Purina’s pet food division to apply the same manufacturing practices for their much-loved cereal products to their dry pet food. After three years of secretly experimenting, they finally created their new and improved kibble called Purina Dog Chow and pet parents nationwide loved it!! It soon became the nation’s number one dry dog food on the market and is still a favourite amongst pet owners today.

Ralston’s Purina was first founded in 1894 when founder William H. Danforth established his animal feed company called Purina Mills. He partnered with George Robinson and Willian Andrews and established a business feeding farm animals called The Robinson-Danforth Commission Company, but the name was changed to Ralston’s Purina in 1902. The company has since changed ownership many times over the years and is now owned by Swiss-based company Nestle.

Today there are countless amounts of dry pet food on offer and every day new products stream onto the market. Many pet owners feel confused and are troubled by how much choice is on offer, but in part four I hope to help with this issue and list some of the best high-quality pet foods on the market. Thankfully, there are a few high-quality kibbles available which I’ll list and I’m really looking forward to finishing this little series off in our final post, part four that will be heading your way in the next few weeks.


Thanks for reading today’s post guys, I hope you all liked learning about kibble and if you did then you know what to do, hit that like button or give it a share so other pet owners can learn all about the history of the pet food industry.

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